Where did I leave off? If you’re still counting, I am up to twelve hours of sleep combined in three nights. Sunday is the final day of Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama – but at this point I am not sure how much fun I will be with all the sleep deprivation.
The condo I’m staying at is pretty sweet. It’s on the beach, and as far as I knew before arrival, it is four blocks from the festival. For your future reference, four beach blocks is a totally different ballgame, my friend. Those four blocks put us about a mile outside the entrance. Try walking that with a laptop strapped to you as your feet pound the sticky hot pavement.
Trying to get myself together, eating at the local Waffle House, and hanging out on the beach – I missed opening acts Cherub and Young The Giant. These were my letdowns of the weekend. Oh yeah, later in the day I missed The Flaming Lips thanks to being pulled away to eat in the Artist Area at an inopportune time. But who can complain about watching Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello tan on the beach backstage? While this was going on I also had the pleasure of meeting Cage The Elephant‘s frontman, Matt Shultz (who is just the nicest young man!), and ate next to Scott Gardner (keys) of Sleeper Agent, both hailing from Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Insert sun tanning for 63 minutes.
It’s 3:45pm and time to catch Cage The Elephant’s set. I got a great spot to the left of the stage right behind the barricades. Enter scary moment number two. Dude causes a scene during “Aint’ No Rest For the Wicked,” which prompts security to rip him out of the crowd and into the media area. I’m not sure why the security guard was being so aggressive with this guy, but he was choking him out all the way to the exact point I was standing. Awesome.
A couple guys surrounding me starting getting into it with the guard, and this caused a huge scene to the left of the stage. I was certain a riot was impending, but to my luck I was able to continue with my whiskey and hear the band’s cover of Pavement’s “False Skorpion.”
What else is super cool about singer Matt Shultz? The closing stage dive into what turned out to be the largest crowd at the Letting Go stage all weekend. Killer.
At 5pm I ran over to the main stage to watch Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros do their 12-piece collective thing. Their live show seemed conducive to spiritual transcendence, or was I just imagining Polyphonic Spree all over again?
Shoes off, instruments in hand, and one ragtime piano breakdown — all the members seemed intoxicated with themselves, barefoot and flailing about on stage singing the good ole gospel. Yes, “Home” was a moment to remember, as was watching singer Alex Ebert soulfully sing while holding hands with his fans. That’s right. He sang face to face for an extensive amount of the set, making his way over the barricades and into the audience, dancing with them, rejoicing in the incredible weather Alabama gave them.
And then there was Dave Matthews Band. Amazing as always. If you’re not a fan, you’re no friend of mine. Who could possibly resist a man who comes up with so many descriptive songs about love and never says anything boring?
He’s a great performer, an even better storyteller, and closing out the festival with a three-hour set put the icing on the cake for me. It was a welcomed replay of Jazz Fest. “Don’t Drink the Water,” “Grave Digger,” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” were some highlights, but after ninety minutes my knees were caving in on me and I was experiencing a total body shutdown.
Later in the evening I got to spend some final hours with people I had met over the weekend, through a delirium I can’t believe I pushed through. All I recall is being in an elevator four times too many, walking on a beach next to a party of ravers shooting flares into the night sky, and finally crashing at about 4am.